Attending the EMD Public Inquiry

The following information has been published by Waltham Forest Council:

FORMER GRANADA/EMD CINEMA

PUBLIC INQUIRY 29TH NOVEMBER- 19TH DECEMBER

NOTICE FOR ANYONE ATTENDING THE INQUIRY

This inquiry has generated a large amount of public interest and the Council wishes to make sure that anyone who wants to attend can. However, space is limited.

If you are interested in attending the Inquiry, we recommend that you try to come on one of the following days, when the Inquiry will be taking place in the Assembly Hall:

Thursday 29th November                                                                                                              Friday 30th November                                                                                                                    Tuesday 4th December                                                                                                                 Wednesday 12th December                                                                                                        Thursday 13th December                                                                                                             Wednesday 19th December

You can also attend on any or all of the following days, but on these days the Inquiry will be in the Council Chamber and space will be limited, and available on a ‘first come first served basis

Wednesday 5th December                                                                                                                   Thursday 6th December                                                                                                                        Friday 7th December                                                                                                                           Tuesday 11th December                                                                                                                         Friday 14th December                                                                                                                        Tuesday 18th December

If you are interested in attending and speaking at the Inquiry, then you should be aware that a day has been reserved for this – Wednesday 12th December. If possible you should organise your time so that you can attend and speak on this day.

We also recommend that you:

    • Attend on the first day (10am on Thursday 29th November) and give your name, the topic you want to speak on and, if possible, a written note of what you plan to say to Martha Clark who will be taking all names of attendees; OR
    • Email the same details (your name, the topic you want to speak on and, if possible, a written note of what you plan to say) to Martha Clark (Martha.Clark@walthamforest.gov.uk) or write to Martha c/o London Borough of Waltham Forest, Sycamore House. Rear of Walthamstow Town Hall. Forest Road. Walthamstow E17 4JF

The Inspector will not refuse permission for any third party to speak on other days; this is simply to try to be as fair as possible to all of the third parties who want to make their views known.

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EMD Public Inquiry – a brief guide

Some Q & A on the inquiry that decides the fate of our cinema

Q. When and where is the inquiry being held?
A. It starts Thurs 29th November and is planned to end on 19th December, weekdays only (except Mondays) from approx 10am-5pm alternating between Walthamstow Assembly Hall and the adjacent Waltham Forest Town Hall (see our attendance guide for details).

Q. Why is a public inquiry being held?
A. It gives both the UCKG, the council and the national planning inspectorate an opportunity to discuss in detail the UCKG’s latest 2 planning applications and whether the council were right to reject them.

Q. Who attends the inquiry?
A. It’s a bit like a court case so principally involves legal teams from the council and appellant (UCKG), planning officers, witnesses supporting both ‘sides’ and the planning inspector.

Q. What about Waltham Forest Cinema Trust?
A. Yes, they will be putting forward their plans for the cinema so the planning inspector will hear the alternative vision for the building as well as the council’s reasons for rejecting UCKG’s proposals.

Q. Will the campaign be represented?                                                                                              A. Save Walthamstow Cinema received confirmation from the planning inspectorate that our objections sent to them on behalf of supporters have been acknowledged and will be included. There will be a speaker from both the SWC campaign, the McGuffin Film Society and at least one residents association plus several others to be advised.

Q. Can I speak at the inquiry?
A. The inspector will give the opportunity for people both for and against UCKG’s plans to speak, although with much of the inquiry taken up with expert testimony, this will be limited. Ideally you will already have written to the inspectorate by 1st November deadline with your views. See attendance guide for how you can book a speaking slot.

Q. Does it help the campaign if I attend the inquiry, even if I don’t speak?
A. Yes, by being there it shows the strength of support both for the cinema and the Trust’s plans.

Q. When will a decision be made?                                                                                                      A. Once the inspector reaches his verdict, it will be passed to the government Secretary of State to make the final decision, possibly in Spring 2013. The result will either reject the UCKG’s appeals or approve them, thus granting UCKG planning consent.

For further info, please email hello@savewalthamstowcinema.org and we’ll do our best to help. Watch this space for further updates.

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UCKG appeal against their rejected planning applications

PLANNING APPEAL – YOUR HELP IS NEEDED – DEADLINE 1ST NOVEMBER!
UCKG have appealed against the rejection of their latest planning applications. We need everyone to tell the national planning inspectorate (who will decide this appeal) that they object to the UCKG’s plans and support the council’s refusal to approve them.

The easiest way is to email
leanne.palmer@pins.gsi.gov.uk
quoting ref. APP/U5930/A/12/2183662/NWF
and including your postal address

or you can write to Leanne Palmer at:

The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/02 Kite Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN

or ‘comment on this case’ via this online form: http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2183662&coid=2179466

You can add your objections to the UCKG’s plans – suggestions are below.
And if you’re in a hurry, why not add your name and address to this template letter:http://mcguffinfilmsociety.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/template-objection-letter-october-2012.pdf

This is the best opportunity to help convince the decision makers to reject UCKG’s appeal.

Any questions? Please email hello@savewalthamstowcinema.org
REMEMBER THE DEADLINE FOR ALL EMAILS, LETTERS AND ONLINE COMMENTS IS 1ST NOVEMBER

Objection suggestions

Access to the main auditorium:
The restriction of access for non UCKG-users to a minimum of 48 days per year
effectively removes this space from the public domain, rendering bookings by
regular event promoters and organisers unviable, as demonstrated at the Rainbow
Theatre which has only screened 2 films in 13 years under UCKG ownership. The
Locum report commissioned by Waltham Forest Council and published in 2010 refers
to the main auditorium as the building’s “feature and reason for
being”.

Proposed cinema provision:

This is ill-proportioned, relegated to the fringes of the
site, secondary to church use and limited to approximately half the floor space
currently allocated for D2 use. The total capacity offered of 690 seats over 6
screens , with 2 screens containing only 55 seats each is wholly insufficient
for a site of this size and prominent town centre
location.

Loss of the borough’s last major dedicated entertainment venue:

These plans remove equipment (screen, flies, lighting etc.) vital to providing professional
entertainment, depriving 225,000 Waltham Forest residents of the only flexible
space capable of staging significant music, theatre and film events in the
borough.

Incompatible shared spaces:

The Locum report states “many potential customers of the cinema
are likely to feel uncomfortable about sharing the lobby area with the church
congregation“ – which is a key part of these plans – and that “the two
activities – worship and entertainment – are not a natural
complement”.

Inappropriate use of a listed building:

Use of the main auditorium for regular worship
is contrary to the building’s special historic interest, character and values,
stated as “intimately connected with its design for use as a cinema” by English
Heritage. Planning guidelines recommend the first option for a Grade II* listed
building such as this is under the purpose for which it was originally
designed.

Lack of viability, attraction and use:

While cinema operators (including Curzon and City
Screen), regeneration consultants (including Locum, Anthony Williams and Capita
Symonds) and events promoters (including Phil McIntyre Entertainments) state the
building has a viable future as a cinema-focussed multiple events venue, use of
the bulk of the building for church activities may greatly reduce its potential
attraction. This includes the conversion of street facing retail units into a
Christian bookshop and training centre and the absence of a licensed bar or
restaurant. The auditorium’s lower circle will be completely unused on a regular
basis.

Conflict with council strategies:

The inability to use or access the main auditorium on a
meaningful basis is unchanged from the previous applications which the council
officer’s report noted “runs contrary to and do complement regeneration
strategies operating within the town centre to stimulate the daytime and evening
economy”.

Lack of
consultation or community engagement:

There has been no attempt made by
UCKG to consult Waltham Forest residents on these plans, despite high levels of
public interest. UCKG have also failed to fully engage or have a dialogue with
residents, the council, cinema campaign groups or the Waltham Forest Cinema
Trust, either now or in the past.

Similarity to previous proposals:

The key aspect to these plans is the UCKG’s intention to use the majority of the
building for church use; a proposal that was unanimously rejected by Waltham
Forest Council in 2011 and had previously been rejected by the council in 2002
and on Appeal in 2003. The allocation of space for the congregation in the main
auditorium is unaltered from the last plans, therefore the numerous reasons
given for refusal previously remain valid in this case.

Economic and social vitality:

No data has been produced to credibly suggest church use has notable economic benefits.
The 2003 Planning Appeal Inspectors report commented “nothing in the commercial
life of that area appeared to benefit from the UCKG Helpcentre”. The use of the
main auditorium for worship was noted in the 2011 council officer’s report as a
“loss of vital asset to the economic, social and cultural heritage and life of
local people”.

Comparable cases:

There are no examples of a hybrid church/cinema operation on this
scale working successfully in the UK. UCKG do not operate their sites in this
way. The only venue they previously proposed doing so – at Catford – ended
without any cinema provision and left Lewisham as the only other London Borough
without a cinema. Examples given by UCKG to support their plans (a refusal to
convert an existing church into a ‘Wellness Centre’ and a refusal to allow a
church group to relocate to an out of town location) are tenuous and invalid in
this case.

Traffic and parking:

As the allocation of space for UCKG members is the same as the
previous application, the issues of stress to local roads and burden on parking
spaces will remain. Similar cases of church operation traffic issues (e.g. The
Potters House Christian Centre, Folkestone Road and Kingsway International
Christian Centre, Hoe Street) are already well documented in the local
area.
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Council to consider CPO

The council has indicated it is considering a CPO of the former cinema. The cabinet will meet on December 4th to consider the idea. The Waltham Forest Cinema Trust has said it could buy the building if it came onto the market. The council apparently considered the CPO option shortly after the building was bought by UCKG in 2003, but decided against it. However since then the owners have had three planning applications rejected, and is about to have its second public enquiry. More details at the Waltham Forest Guardian.

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Pickles Posters!

Alert family, friends, neighbours and passersby to the cinema’s plight with these posters.
The deadline to tell the planning inspectorate to reject UCKG’s ‘church-in-a-cinema’ plans is THURSDAY 1ST NOVEMBER.

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UCKG’s plans rejected unanimously

At a heated planning meeting, all seven councillors on Waltham Forest’s planning committee united to reject the UCKG’s latest plans for a church/cinema hybrid at the EMD. More in the Waltham Forest Guardian.

The UCKG will now Appeal this decision along with the previous plans rejected last year. The provisional date for this Appeal hearing is November, when the national government’s planning inspectorate will decide whether to overrule Waltham Forest Council’s decisions.

We’ll keep you posted on how you can help ensure the planning inspectorate understands the opposition to UCKG’s plans and potential damage they will cause regeneration hopes for Walthamstow.

In the meantime, a very big THANK YOU to all supporters!

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Please show your support at Walthamstow Assembly Hall

On 4th September from 7.30pm, councillors will decide whether to approve or reject UCKG’s latest church plans for the cinema, at a public meeting.

Please join us outside the Assembly Hall (next to Town Hall), Forest Road E17 by 7pm latest to show your support for keeping the cinema as an entertainment venue.

Bring a placard if you wish, and ask your friends, family and neighbours to come along too.

 

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